Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
Once ignored, offers keep coming for DE
An Arkansas Razorback helmet at Chad Morris introductory press conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
One would be hard-pressed to find another major college prospect more appreciative of his opportunities than junior-college defensive end Dorian Gerald.
Gerald, 6-3, 260 pounds, of College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., received a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Sunday to go along with more than 30 other offers from schools such as Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Nebraska.
ESPN rates Gerald the No. 1 defensive end and No. 4 overall junior-college prospect, but a few years ago it appeared college football wasn’t going to be an option for him.
Despite being the all-time sack leader at West Florence High School in South Carolina and playing in the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game, Gerald had no offers.
“People would ask why don’t you have any offers, and I wondered the same thing because in high school I broke my high school’s record for sacks,” Gerald said.
Gerald then attended Palmetto Prep Academy to draw the attention of college recruiters.
“My prep school only played eight games and I had 11 sacks,” Gerald said.
After having no offers after prep school, Gerald headed to junior college where he continued to pile up impressive stats. He recorded 54 tackles, 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss as a freshman, and had 42 tackles, 10 sacks and 19 tackles for loss this season.
During the spring, Gerald started to see his hard work pay off with his first offer coming from Georgia State. Tennessee soon followed, then others.
“I had no offers out of high school to now being the No. 4 overall player in the country,” he said. “I would lie to you if I said I knew I was going to do this the whole time, because I didn’t.”
Gerald’s interest level in the Hogs is high after hearing of the expected hiring of John Chavis as the defensive coordinator.
“It’s huge especially hearing that they’re supposed to get coach Chavis as the defensive coordinator,” Gerald said. “He was at Texas A&M when they were recruiting me, and I know he runs a 4-3 and I’m big on the 4-3. I feel like that’s where I fit in as a defensive end.”
He spoke with Coach Chad Morris on Sunday.
“He seemed like a really great guy, and I talked to a couple of other people and they seem like a great staff,” Gerald said.
Justin Stepp, who was the receivers coach at SMU under Morris, recruited Gerald while a graduate assistant at Clemson.
“He recruited me after my prep school years,” Gerald said. “I know him pretty good. The people there seem really good, and coach Chavis is a good defensive coordinator. Everyone knows him.”
Gerald committed to Tennessee in July but reopened his recruitment in November after the firing of Butch Jones as the head coach. He officially visited Texas Tech and Louisville and has one scheduled for Florida on Feb. 2. The Hogs appear to be in good shape to receive an official visit.
“I have visits set up, but nothing is totally locked in yet,” he said. “I’m still evaluating people. I’m still evaluating coaches.”
The personable and engaging Gerald calls his college opportunities a “blessing.”
“I know what it feels like to have nothing,” Gerald said. “I know what it feels like to want to give up. I was in high school begging, knocking on coaches’ doors. Knocking Division II’s doors to turn on my film.”
Gerald’s performance on the field has been consistent, but he attributes his offers to faith and prayer.
“They only difference is I started praying more, and honestly that changed my life,” Gerald said. “That was the only thing that changed. My numbers never changed.”
When he’s done playing football, Gerald wants to coach so he can affect others like his coaches have him.
“My thing is I feel like the reason why I am the way I am is because certain coaches came into my life and changed me forever,” Gerald said.
Aundres Perkins, who was the defensive coordinator at West Florence, has been a major influence in Gerald’s life.
“He always preached to me that no matter what, he believed in me from day one,” said Gerald, who fondly calls him Uncle Perkins. “I just want guys to know that someone out there believes in you.
“I just want to change people’s lives. I know I can’t change everybody, but the people I’m around I want them to see that you don’t have to be a perfect guy to be a good guy.”
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